A late woman’s gift to the city of a house and lot on the corner of College and North 16th streets could bring a new park to the north side of Philomath. At the same time, the site would serve as a memorial to her son who gave his life during the Vietnam War and fill a need for a park in an area that had been identified by the city.
The Philomath City Council came out of executive session late Monday and approved a motion to direct city staff to work with representatives of Beverly M. (Cochran) Durham’s estate and “secure the property for the city for the purposes described in the document.”
The document referenced by Councilor Doug Edmonds in his motion was sent to the city by the estate’s attorney and outlines the proposed gift of one-eighth of an acre located at 1545 College St.
Provisions are attached to the gift include using the property for “park purposes” and that it not be developed by the city or anyone else. Durham also wanted the park to be dedicated and named in memory of her son, Paul Jeffrey Cochran.
The proposed agreement also includes a gift of slightly over $16,000 to the city with the request that the money be used for landscaping purposes.
Another provision attached to the agreement was to allow the current tenant of the home to remain for up to four years after her death. However, the attorney’s letter indicates that the tenant has given notice and intends to move out in the “foreseeable future.”
Cochran, a member of the 101st Airborne Division, was killed May 1, 1968, in Vietnam just five months after he had arrived, according to an obituary published that year. He graduated with 71 fellow seniors with Philomath High’s Class of 1966. He enlisted in the Army the following November. He is buried in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.
Durham died Aug. 5, 2018, at age 90. After moving to Philomath in the 1960s, she worked at Oregon State University teaching English to international students while also earning two master’s degrees. She worked at the university for 22 years.
A new park in the North 16th Street vicinity had been identified in the Park Master Plan as a “Priority 2” capital project.
“This small neighborhood park will provide park amenities to the north-central portion of the city currently underserved,” a description in the plan reads. “It will include play equipment, benches and a picnic area.”
The closest park by foot from the Durham property would be Dale Collins Park, about two-tenths of a mile to the south in the vicinity of where Philomath Boulevard joins up with Main Street. That park is more of a visual with the city’s readerboard, artwork, vegetation, a bench and picnic table.
Pioneer Park, a landscaped lot with a bench, is located three-tenths of a mile to the west of the Durham house.
The closest park with playground equipment appears to be Triangle Park, located eight-tenths of a mile west on College Street. A park on North Ninth Street will be constructed this summer.
The estimated cost of an envisioned park on North 16th was listed in the master plan as $68,800. With the Durham gift, it appears possible that grants could cover or at least contribute to the cost of its construction.
In other news from the May 13 meeting:
• Sal Peralta, interim deputy director of the nonprofit PERS Solutions for Public Services, gave a presentation to the council about recommended reforms for the state employees pension system. Councilors later in the evening adopted a resolution to support the effort.
• The council approved liquor licenses for 13 businesses — Philomath Towne Pump, Ixtapa Mexican Restaurent, Jona’s Market, Philomath Market, Main Street Market, Eats & Treats Cafe, Reliance Petroleum, The Meet’N Place, Vinwood Taphouse, Dollar General Store, Nectar Creek, The Dizzy Hen and The Woodsman Tavern.
• The council approved a motion in support of a memorandum of understanding between Oregon RAIN and the eight-city Linn-Benton Collaborative, which includes Philomath.
• The council adopted a resolution to establish a building permit investigative fee.
• The council held a public hearing on the city’s proposed uses of state revenue funds. Nobody testified at the hearing.
• Among the issues brought up during the public comment period was an update on an appeal that challenged the city’s recent annexation of 19.68 acres but was dismissed by the state Land Use Board of Appeals. Jeffrey R. Lamb, petitioner, and Catherine Biscoe, intervenor-petitioner, brought the action against the city and Levi Beelart, the intervenor-respondent. The March 21 dismissal was based on the appeal being “untimely filed.” The matter has gone on to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
• Niemann issued proclamations to recognize Police Week (May 12-18) and Public Works Week (May 19-25).